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Curriculum Guide: Spanish

The PBS Approach

Acquiring a new language happens best through joy and personal connection. At PBS we use comprehension-based language instruction to teach Spanish. Current linguistic research shows languages are acquired without relying on the analytical participation of the conscious mind. This explains why many of us never became proficient in a language despite years of classroom drilling and memorization. Languages are learned unconsciously through understanding messages. Acquisition happens when students focus on the meaning of words in context and not just on individual words in lists. We also know that second language acquisition is slow, piecemeal, and stage-like.

At PBS we embrace the themes outlined in the Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century known as the five Cs:

  • Communication: Communicate in languages other than English
    • Students engage in conversation, provide and obtain information, express feelings and emotions, and exchange opinions.
    • Students understand and interpret written and spoken languages on a variety of topics.
    • Students present information, concepts, and ideas to an audience of listeners or readers on a variety of topics.
  • Culture: Gain knowledge and understanding of other cultures
    • Students demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the perspectives and practices of the culture studied.
    • Students demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the perspectives and products of the culture studied.
  • Connections: Connect With Other Disciplines and Acquire Information
    • Students reinforce and further their knowledge of other disciplines through the foreign language.
    • Students acquire information and recognize the distinctive viewpoints that are only available through the foreign language and its cultures.
  • Comparisons: Develop Insight Into the Nature of Language and Culture
    • Students demonstrate understanding of the nature of language though comparisons of the language studied and their own.
    • Students demonstrate understanding of the concept of culture through comparisons of the cultures studied and their own.
  • Communities: Participate in Multilingual Communities at Home and Around the World
    • Students use the language both within and beyond the school setting.
    • Students show evidence of becoming life-long learners by using the language for personal enjoyment and enrichment.

Excerpted from Standards for Foreign Language Education: Preparing for the 21st Century. ACTFL, 1999. The Executive Summary and a hard copy of the standards are available from the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).

We also use the NCSSFL–ACTFL Can-Do Statements to guide students’ learning goals and curriculum development. Vocabulary is taught in the context of classroom procedures, songs, stories (acted out and read), games, holidays, and a variety of activities ranging from cooking to a puppet show. Our instructional strategies are supported by embedded technology such as Quizlet live, Voicememo, and Señor Wooly. Our curriculum repeats and spirals using different age-appropriate activities and subject matter from year to year. Spanish also collaborates with other PBS curricula such as music, science, art, and global citizenship.

Key Concepts and Emphasis

Evaluation Criteria

From the PBS Blog…